Max Kurz’s 47-year coaching career was dotted by championships. As a boys cross country and track coach and a girls cross country coach at Millard, Millard South and Millard West, his teams won three state championships, finished second nine times and in the top four 21 times. His boys track team claimed one state title and seven top-four finishes. He was named the Metro Conference track and cross country Coach of the Year 14 times before his retirement in 2017.
Scottsbluff (Class of 1954)
The Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year in 1954, Knaub was a four-year letterman in track and a two-year letterman in football and basketball, earning all-conference and all-state honors. On the track, he established three state records and won all-class gold medals in the pole vault his sophomore and junior seasons and in the long jump his junior year. Knaub won the state pentathlon as a senior, but was injured at the state track meet. He helped UCLA win the NCAA championship in 1956 and won two conference long jump championships. He competed in the 1956 Olympic Trials in the long jump.
Athlete. The attraction is to the weight events for many strong young men in high school. Many double in the events, but rarely do they reach star status in both the shot put and discus throw. Marty Kobza of Schuyler Central High School made it, big time, especially in 1981. His top throw in the shot put reached 66’11 1/2″, plus he was the first in history to reach 200 feet in the discus. His boys state meet toss of 201-7 toss became the all-time record at the time. Named high school athlete of the year, his discus throw was second best in the entire nation in 1981. Later, while at Arkansas in college, he was six times an All-American and a member of the World University Team in 1985.
Athlete. A prep All-American in football in 1959, John Kirby earned all-class and Class C all-state honors in football his junior and senior years. In 1960, Kirby was a Shrine Bowl captain. He also started for two years on the David City St. Mary basketball team that in those two seasons accumulated a record of 34-8. In track Kirby scored in five events at the state track meet. In 1960, he had the best discus throw in the state in all classes. Kirby chose to play football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and was a 1963 captain. In 1964 he played in the Senior Bowl game and was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. After playing with the Vikings from 1964 to 1968, Kirby played for the New York Giants from 1969 to 1971
State swimming championship trophies flood the Omaha Westside trophy case thanks to the leadership of coach Doug Krecklow. His coaching career, starting at the club level surpassed the 45-year mark and culminated in 20 state championships with the Warriors-11 with the boys team and nine with the girls team-from 1979 to the time of his Hall of Fame induction in 2015. The run of success has included a dozen runner-up trophies. Employing extensive use of biomechanics and physiology, as well as mental training strategies, Krecklow has produced nearly 90 individual champions and more than 25 relay gold medalists.
Athlete. A 1937 graduate of Jackson High School situated in northeast Lincoln, this versatile athlete had an honorable career in three sports: football, basketball and track from his freshman year forward. He was an all-city back for four years on the gridiron. Named all-state in football his junior and senior years, the Jackson High team was actually unbeaten for three years, at one time with a 30-game winning streak. Every year he was in high school the Jackson High Cardinals were in the Class A state basketball tournament, finishing runners-up in both 1936 and 1937. At one time he held the state track & field record in the javelin.
Making a smooth transition from the red and white of Jackson to the scarlet and cream of the University of Nebraska, he was the Big Six champion in the javelin in 1938. Of legendary note are his three years as a letterman in the backfield of the Cornhusker football team, finishing his career in the 1941 Rose Bowl appearance of the Cornhuskers.
Athlete. Ray Knaub’s athleticism helped make Scottsbluff High School a threat in statewide competition and his track exploits put his name on the all-time charts as he dominated the high school Big Ten Conference. He won state track meet gold medals in the 100- and 220-yard dashes and ran on gold medal-winning 880-yard relays teams. He claimed a share of the state record in the 100 (9.8 second). In college, he was a member of Baylor University’s Southwest Conference championship track team, winning the 100 in the conference, in the Texas Relays and the Kansas Relays and reached championships status in the conference indoor 60-yard hurdles. Lives in Lakewood, CO.
Grand Island Central Catholic
Jenny Kropp-Goess spent her high school career rewriting the record book at Grand Island Central Catholic. A four-year letter winner in basketball and volleyball and an all-state selection in both. it was soon clear that she had exceptional volleyball skills. Leading the Crusaders to the state finals three times and the state Championship in 1994 , she set school records with 25 kills in a game, 359 kills in a season, 1010 kills in a career and 102 blocks in a season. In basketball, she set the school record for rebounds with 716 and for blocks in a game (17), season (179) and areer (412). She went on to earn All-American honors playing volleyball at Nebraska, helping the Huskers win four big 12 conference titles and reach the NCAA championship match three times. Coach John Cook said she was the heart of the Huskers 2000 national championship team. After college, she played professional indoor volleyball in Puerto Rico before embarking on a successful career in professional beach volleyball.
Athlete. The halls of Schuyler High School echoed for quite some time at the exploits of Sue Kobza, one of the best girl athletes at a time when women’s high school sports in Nebraska was undergoing a modern resurgence. A three-sport athlete at Schuyler Central, she lettered three years in both volleyball and basketball, but she claimed track as her true athletic love and followed in a family tradition by throwing the discus. Sue started early by setting discus records in youth competition while in junior high and won second place in the state high school meet her freshman year, her lowest state meet finish. She won the Class B discus throw her sophomore, junior and senior years at the state track meet, setting records each time. She carried her love for track into the Junior Olympics and was a national champion in her final year in 1977. A good student at the University of Nebraska, she lettered one year in basketball and three years in track & field.
Coach, Lincoln Pius X. Kelley coached boys and girls state championships at Lincoln Pius X. He coached six-man football and basketball at Ohiowa from 1959 to 1961 before becoming the boys basketball coach at Norfolk Catholic. He moved on to Lincoln Pius X where he coached boys basketball from 1968 to 1980, advancing to the state tournament five times and winning the state championship in 1974. In 1985, he became the girls coach, leading the Thunderbolts to five state tournament appearances in seven years and winning the state title in 1991 and 1992. His combined boys and girls coaching record is 371-188.